If voters approve the Board of Education's proposed purchase of a residential property at 314 Pelhamdale Avenue, Colonial School students will get more playground space and the School District will use the house for administrative offices.

Currently, Colonial has a very small playground area. The School District need new administrative office space because new classrooms are being reconfigured in the space at the high school this summer.

The Pelham Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday night, May 1 and voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the residential property located at 314 Pelhamdale Avenue in Pelham (south of the Colonial School playground).

The vote to enter into a contract for purchase of the property is subject to approval by Pelham voters and a special referendum vote is planned for Tuesday, June 18.

If approved, the property could provide expanded playground and green space for Colonial School, which is currently very limited because of its location in a residential neighborhood. The existing house could be used as office space for District administration, reducing the need to rent offices for administrators who are planned to vacate their current offices in Pelham Memorial High School to make way for additional classrooms. Additionally, purchasing the property could provide future boards flexibility to consider expansion of Colonial School if and when the situation warrants it.

The contract stipulates a purchase price of $1.1 million for the property contingent upon voter approval on June 18. The Board plans to fund the purchase using undesignated reserve funds, meaning that the acquisition would be tax neutral to residents. No borrowing is necessary, therefore no additional taxes will be levied for this purchase of property.

“Throughout the bond process last year, the Board identified a number of issues with respect to Colonial School, including a lack of outdoor space and the inability to expand the building to absorb increasing future enrollment if we need to,” said Board of Education President Sue Bratone Childs. “Unfortunately there is very little that can be done to resolve these issues due to the ‘landlocked’ nature of Colonial School. The opportunity to purchase contiguous property is rare and as a Board we feel that doing so is a viable way to create opportunities to address some of those issues in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Importantly, moving District offices into the existing house would allow us to repurpose funds currently allocated for rental office space to meet other facilities needs within the district.”

While the Board had hoped to include the property acquisition proposition on the same ballot as the May budget vote and school board member election, the timing of the negotiations did not allow for that to happen, resulting in the need for the June 18 special election.

“Acquiring property contiguous to Colonial School is something that has been on the District’s radar for some time,” said Dr. Cheryl Champ, Superintendent of Schools. “Given the challenges facing the school with regard to the physical plant, and our already established plans to seek office space outside of the high school, we feel that this is a unique opportunity to address several identified issues at one time. By using undesignated reserves to purchase the property, we are able to acquire an important asset without adding to the tax burden already facing our residents while ensuring that our District remains in a strong fiscal position.”

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